William Duke

William Duke, 'Flurry', 1848 (W.L. Crowther Library, SLT)

William Charles Duke (181453), artist, was born in Ireland, and in 1840 migrated with his family to Sydney. Duke's trade was listed as carpenter, but he worked as a (highly regarded) scenic artist around Australia, with a period as portrait painter of Maori sitters in New Zealand. Duke is best known as the journeyman painter of lively marine oil paintings of whaling, commissioned by Hobart shipowners. He produced lithographs of whaling scenes and oil paintings of town scenes, his best-known being 'New Town Road, Hobart Town' (c 1850). In partnership with theatre mechanist Richard Johnson, Duke produced a large Diorama of Hobart in 1847. Finding it financially necessary around 1850 to emigrate to Victoria, Duke's principal work again became scenic art. He completed a number of scenic art commissions in Geelong, where he died.

Lindsay Broughton